There are fears that Bishop’s Waltham Library will end up being closed if council plans to slash its opening hours go ahead.
The library escaped being axed completely in cuts announced last week but now Hampshire County Council is planning new cuts which will mean its opening hours will be cut by almost a third from the current 22.5 to just 16 – and it will only be open for one afternoon a week.
Cutting two of the three afternoon sessions, reducing the hours of the remaining one from 7pm to 5pm and leaving the rest as mornings will mean many children, young people and people who use the library after work will no longer be able to.
One parent said: “If I was cynical, I’d say this is a deliberate plan. I often take all three of my children to the library – that counts as four users. But after school events will mean we will struggle to get to the library on the one afternoon it will be open.
“I’m sure lots of other families, young people at college and people who pop in after work will be in the same boat. Numbers of library users will inevitably drop and the reduced number of users will be cited as a reason to close the library a year or two down the line.”
|Current opening times||Usual Hours||Proposed opening times||New Hours|
|Tuesday: 2pm-7pm||Tuesday: 1pm-5pm|
|Wednesday: 10am-5pm||Wednesday: 9.30am-1.30pm|
|Thursday: Closed||Thursday: Closed|
|Friday: 9.30am-5pm||Friday: 10am-1.30pm|
|Saturday: 9.30am-1pm||Saturday: 9.30am-1.30pm|
|Sunday: Closed||Sunday: Closed|
“This is a ridiculous proposal and will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for many children and lots of other people to use the library. You do wonder how much thought goes into these ideas.
“Libraries are vital in encouraging children to get into the habit of reading books and anything that makes that harder is unhelpful.”
Another parent said: “The library is always busy after school and changing the hours from three open afternoons to one is a huge mistake.
“The staff are always ready with suggestions and have time to discuss books with the children.
“My children enjoy their time after school – we go at least once a week on different days. Encouraging good reading habits is a community effort and something that Bishop’s Waltham library does very well currently. Please do not change this!”
Hampshire County Council has launched a consultation about the planned cuts and residents can oppose them. You can find the consultation and make your views are known here: https://www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay/consultations/library-consultation It is open for comments until August 17th.